As the year winds down, it’s a good time to take stock of our accomplishments, our missteps and our effectiveness during the past year, and then reflect on how we want to improve in the coming year.
Good leadership isn’t simply about being smart and making good decisions. Effective leadership brings out the best in people. Studies have shown that the results gained when a strategy is executed by an engaged workforce are two to three times those gained by an ambivalent workforce.
Our leadership effectiveness is determined in large part by “who we are”. In other words, our effectiveness is impacted by how the people around us view us. This impression of us is created over time, or as a colleague of mine says, by “Moments of Apparent Insignificance”. People don’t evaluate us by the big events. Instead, they assess us by how we act on a day-to-day basis.
There are three leadership behaviors which strongly impact how we’re viewed by others and therefore our leadership effectiveness, which in turn boosts engagement. Honing our skills in these areas is a smart way to “reinvent” our leadership effectiveness in the coming year.
Behavior #1: Treat People Like People
People will give (and be) their best when they’re treated like “people” rather than “things”. Effective leaders understand that everyone – regardless of position – has hopes, fears, dreams, and stress. They interact with people in a way that reflects that understanding. Great leaders demonstrate that they care about people and don’t simply think of them as “resources”. That doesn’t mean they accept mediocrity or don’t hold people accountable. Instead, treating people like people is about how we hold people accountable and how we go about drawing the best out of them. Communicate with people from an understanding that people have feelings and that people generally want to do a good job. Your leadership effectiveness will improve.
Behavior #2: Treat Adults Like Adults
People will also give (and be) their best when they’re treated like adults rather than like children. Effective leaders allow people to be responsible and give them the autonomy to complete tasks in their own way. Great leaders encourage people to use their creativity and avoid micromanaging. Oddly enough, by granting autonomy in the right way, it allows us to hold people to a higher degree of accountability. Communicate and delegate in a way that reflects a perspective of one adult to another.
Behavior #3: Show Genuine Appreciation
If we really want to drive engagement and productivity as a leader, we need to acknowledge people’s efforts even more than their achievements. Recognizing achievements is important, but let’s face it, the work that most people do doesn’t lead to some significant, notable achievement. It’s more effective to show your appreciation for efforts put forth above and beyond the norm – even if only to accomplish what’s expected.
Sincere appreciation is generally personal and heartfelt, given from one person to another. And it’s often spontaneously shown as a response to the effort someone put into completing a task. It is an expression of gratitude for someone’s effort, and its impact is immediate and long-lasting.
Telling someone you appreciate their effort in completing a project over the weekend has a far greater impact than offering a token of recognition. Plus, the degree of appreciation expressed is generally in direct proportion to the effort and/or sacrifice made by the person. Expressing appreciation makes a difference.
During the remaining days of this year, reflect on ways you might do a better job of treating people like people, treating adults like adults, and being more appreciative. It will reinvent and elevate your leadership.
For many leaders, the challenge with changing their leadership style is that, for the most part, we act, react, and interact out of habit. Not only are we barely conscious of our actions, but even when we are, we’re acting out of… well… habit – barely giving our actions any thought. If you’d like help in improving your leadership effectiveness, give us a call. You’re welcome to call me on my direct line: 503-928-7645 (Portland, OR). We work with clients throughout North America and world-wide.